Monday, April 05, 2021

THE FINAL DEADLINE


Sunrise at Spring Point, South Portland Maine

“The days of our years are threescore years and ten,” according to Psalm 90, and I reached that milestone yesterday, April 7th. We live longer here in the 21st century United States than people did in ancient Israel when Psalm 90 was written, but not much longer. Because of a circulatory condition I didn’t think I’d make it even this far because I haven’t been able to purchase life insurance since I was thirty-three. Yet here I am, still sucking oxygen.



Reaching seventy seems like a good time to take stock and make some changes. I began writing for publication sometime during the Carter Administration. My pieces were occasional until sometime late in the George H. W. Bush Administration when I committed to writing a regular, weekly column for various newspapers. With advent of the internet, several web sites picked it up too, and up to now about 1500 columns have been published in hard copy. Deadlines for 800-word columns have crimped my weekly schedule ever since, and that has become tiresome.



When I turned sixty, I retired from the classroom. Now, at seventy, I’m liberating myself from deadlines and returning to occasional-writer status. Why? Mostly because writing keeps me at my desk when I’d rather be outside taking pictures, especially now that spring is here. Photography is much more fun, and it scratches my creative itch more thoroughly than writing does. It’s also more lucrative.


Sunrise from Christian Hill last month
After a day exploring my environs through the lens of my camera, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer, but I’m seeing beautiful color photos instead of words in dull black-and-white. It’s relaxing and energizing at the same time — and I listen to music while I edit— classical piano mostly. With income from sales, I purchased high-end cameras, lenses and other tools of the trade and I want to use them more. Already I’m waking up with excitement as I think about where I’ll go with my photo backpack after breakfast, or even before breakfast if I feel like it.



Going into my office now, I’m eager to see what my latest photos look like on the big monitor. Although I discard most, I like using an editing program to make the rest better, but even fewer of those make it onto my web site to be offered for sale. As I said, the whole process is much more fun than writing. Conscious that this is my final regular column, I’m feel liberated from deadlines already. I’ll be free all next week, and for however many more weeks my Creator wishes to give me. Only He knows what my final deadline will be  — and about that I prefer to remain in ignorance.



Whatever occasional writing I may do will be published on my blog, and will likely be in the form of photo essays. Now, however, they can be less than 800 words, or more. I can write whatever comes to mind and go on for as long as I want. I can go off on tangents without feeling guilty for not sticking to the subject. Tangents are usually more creative than the intended script anyway. I never know where they’ll take me but the trip is always enjoyable.


Old Orchard Beach at dawn

My blog is a better medium than newspapers for photos and words and that’s where future pieces will go. If publications ever wishes to pick one up, they can, but I won’t be promoting them. I don’t enjoy marketing and have never done much of it.


Somewhere in Kennebunk, Maine

I intend to continue my TV show: “Left & Right,” because that’s only twice a month and it’s still fun. Whereas writing columns was a solitary endeavor, TV is interactive and I can invite anyone I wish. Show prep is easy because I’m always keeping up with news of the world anyway and I decide what the content will be. 



Positive and negative feedback from my columns have come in newspapers, online, over the telephone, through email, via snail-mail, and in person. It was nice to get it, negative included, and I want to thank the many people who sent it over the years in spite of, or because of, the controversy my columns engendered. I’ve saved most of the hard copy letters to the editor, opposing columns, and snail-mail letters along with digital copies of emails. Comments on my blog will be preserved as long as Google allows.


Sunrise at Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Psalm 90:10 goes on to say, “…and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”




Although there’s been no shortage of labor and sorrow during my 70 years, joy has been thoroughly interspersed as well, and I hope will continue to be before I fly away.



5 comments:

Montedoro44 said...

Happy birthday, Tom! And I hope the release from work and strain will sit well with you. I was 70 once, and that worked for me. To celebrate on subject (subjects -- the significance of birthdays, and work), I will share with you some deep thoughts as I have learned to express them. I contribute at oedilf.com (Check this place out.), and below is a bit of my low-hanging fruit.


Happy birthday! No reason to cry.
Gosh, we all have to go by and by.
The good cheer I can give
Is the longer you live,
Then the sooner you're going to die.

[Credit The Clancy Brothers for the punch here.]


Happy birthday to you! You're not done —
Your adventure has just re-begun.
Here's to many more trips
On that year-long ellipse —
Have another free ride 'round the sun.


Eve's mistake put us all on the spot —
For her sin, banned from Eden we got.
Then the curse: work and strain,
Sorrow, sickness and pain,
And then death: Fall of Man. Thanks a lot.

Nick Peace said...

Didn't Obamacare stop the insurance companies from excluding people due to pre-existing conditions? Or do they just make it so expensive that it's not affordable? Either way, does it change how you feel about government regulation and/or universal health care?

emljr@gmail.com said...

You are a mere boy at 70,taken from someone who has reached 77.If Mary McCarthy can write memories of a Catholic Girlhood, perhaps you can join me in writing Memories of a Catholic Boyhood.
EMLJr.

Unknown said...

You are a mere boy at 70, taken from an older 77.Perhaps you can write Memories of a Catholic Boyhood, besting Mary McCarthy's Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.

Kafir said...

Happy 70th. Yesterday, 4/6/21, my son and his wife had a baby boy who is my first grandchild. This Saturday I will by attending the funeral of my 91 year old uncle. I’m trying to think of something clever to say about life and all it’s up and and downs, but can’t.

I’ve enjoyed your columns over the years and will miss reading them. However, we all have to move on at some point.